'Quack' is one of my favourite pieces of Australian theatre so I was excited and a little apprehensive to see the SUDS production. For those of you unfamiliar with 'Quack', I'll break it down for you: ZOMBIES ATTACK: BLOOD SPLATTERS. Obviously there is more to it. It is a very well written play, if not verbose but ultimately I love it for one reason. Gore.
The audience are mustered in just outside the Studio B entrance. We are told if we are allergic to kerosene or opposed to being splattered with blood or pus, please don't sit in the front row. We all nod in unison and bee-line for the nosebleed section (or the fifth row in studio B). As I enter I am informed that a seat had been reserved for me, in the front row. Fantastic.
The set was very basic, a door and two tables, framed with worn-out theatre flats. Everything looks 10 years too old. Despite this, the stage feels warm and inviting, old-worldly. The score was appropriately haunting. It felt very familiar, like every 'point and click' game I had ever played.
The language was coarse and the piss, pus and blood flows fairly regularly. The cast certainly have a firm grasp on physical comedy. This is clear early on during Fanny (Melissa McShane) and Nancy's (Geneva Gilmour) slap-off. My biggest gripe with this production was the constant talking heads. The actors kept standing still to deliver their lines. I feel like they needed to use the stage more or just sit down.
Now on to the gore. I would have liked more, but I know how budgets can be restricting. However I found the scene where Dr Littlewood (Alexander Richmond) spews discharge all over the audience (including me in my front row seat) very satisfying. The rest of the audience seemed to think so too, cheering at every putrid retch. A young man seated behind me chortled “God have mercy on your show”. More like “God have mercy on my blouse”.
At the three quarter point, all of the cast are covered head to toe in fake blood and are well and truly embedded in their characters, the crux of the piece underlined with one line describing the zombies as being
“...the catastrophe of our choices” reminding us of how visceral a good horror can be. 'Quack' gives us insight into human nature and what lies at its fetid, coagulated core, which feels particularly relevant after all that has happened with human rights in Australia of late.
For the most part, I enjoyed the performance. The production values were low but the performances were of a high calibre, especially Richmond and McShane.
Any show where I need to take a shower afterwards hits the mark for me.